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Executive View: Answering the Social Media Telephone

by: ASPE President David Mantica

What does it mean to answer the social media telephone?  Six months ago I didn’t have a clue as to what that meant – tells you how fast things in marketing move these days.  I can go from not knowing anything to writing a blog about it in six months, pretty interesting.  But once I understood, I believed.

Right now your telephone rings because you are doing a ton of activity to make it ring.  From sending direct mail and email, to placing and purchasing pay-per-click ads or keywords, to getting consultants to optimize your website, to having your sales team bang calls out on the phones, basically all these are examples of you trying to make your phone ring.  When you do this you spend money with the thought if I reach 1,000 people x amount of those people will be interested and in need of my services.  That x can be anywhere from 100% to 1%. Experienced marketers know it will be somewhere between 1% and 10% depending on the medium, message, product and price.

The social media phone, however, is an entirely different dynamic.   One of the best first steps in understanding the social media telephone is by reading chapter 4 of The Now Revolution by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund.  Now, I am not a big fan of plugging anything.  I was also not a huge fan of the first few chapters of this book (they were pedantic, self-glorifying, typical millennial gibberish), but once the authors got to the point and discussed the tactics, they showed their strength.

What I had to understand and get through my thick head was why I should make something ring that is already ringing.  The result I found was that within the realm of social media there are people out there begging to know more and buy my product.  You just have to know where to go, or better yet, what to listen for.

The social media phone is first about searching and finding those folks asking for help about your products.  We are a training company. Just imagine how many folks on a blog or a tweet basically ask for more information on the topics we train.  Do you know someone who can help me with Agile?  Do you know of anyone who can work with web parts in SharePoint?  These are just two examples of questions posted that if we were listening we would not have to send out 1000 brochures to get these two folks.  We would get them from one person listening.

Sounds easy, but as with anything good, it isn’t. But it is doable.  You can build the practice in your organization to listen for specific keywords and then answer the “phone” by responding to their request.  My concern is the repeatability and scalability of this form of phone activity.  I am very comfortable in the world of sending out 50,000 brochures to get the phone to bring and provide 50 to 100 sales.  With minor changes and proper execution this model can be extended to 100,000 or more brochures and can be executed for years.  What I am uncomfortable with is how big and consistent can social media phone activity become, and whether economies of scale happen.

Interestingly I believe these are good challenges because even if it can’t scale, it is something that can be used as one part of a complete marketing plan that can reduce aggregate marketing costs and increase leads per activity.  My suggestion, as an executive, is start testing right away!

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